Agenda item

Planning Application DC/20/1445/FUL - Land adjacent to Moonstone, Chilton Street, Clare (Report No: DEV/WS/21/059)

Planning Application - (i) 1no. Dwelling (ii) Garage with habitable space above and associated landscaping (resubmission of DC/19/0270/FUL)



Planning Application - (i) 1no. Dwelling (ii) Garage with habitable space above and associated landscaping (resubmission of DC/19/0270/FUL)


This application was referred to the Development Control Committee following consideration by the Delegation Panel and in view of the support offered by Clare Town Council which was in conflict with the Officer’s recommendation of refusal, for the reasons set out in Paragraph 94 of Report No DEV/WS/21/059.


Members were advised that the planning application was a revised scheme from the previously refused application (DC/19/0270/FUL - 1no. Dwelling (ii) Garage with habitable space above and associated landscaping).


The Senior Planning Officer explained that the main differences were that the dwelling now proposed had a reduced footprint of 28 metres by 8 metres (previously 34m x 8.2m), a ridge height of 10.2 metres (previously 11.2m) but would still be externally finished with a Corten steel tree canopy frame which ‘enveloped’ the dwelling.


The reduction in footprint allowed for the proposed dwelling to be moved slightly further away from the site boundaries and in turn the garage was set further back within the plot. The ridge height of the garage had also been reduced by 0.7 metres.


As with the previous application the applicants claimed that the proposal should be considered as an NPPF ‘Paragraph 79’ proposal and as such the comments from the Suffolk Design Review Panel (SDRP) on the previous application were considered to remain relevant.


The Committee was informed that since publication of the agenda the applicants had submitted an arboricultural impact assessment.  Whilst Officers had not had time to fully assess the content of the documentation Member were advised that the assessment could negate the need for refusal reason number four.


Accordingly, Officers were continuing to recommend that the application be refused for the reasons set out in the report with delegated authority being sought to liaise with the Chair with regard to the inclusion/removal of reason four, as deemed necessary once the report had been considered by the Council’s Tree Officer.


As part of his presentation the Officer provided videos of the site by way of a virtual ‘site visit’.


Speakers:    Anna Juhl & Robert Marshall (neighbouring objectors) spoke against the application (neither individual connected to the meeting to personally address the Committee and instead opted to have the Democratic Services Officer read out a pre-prepared submitted joint statement on their behalf)

                   Craig Beech (agent) spoke in support of the application


During the debate some Members posed questions with regard to the recently received arboricultural impact assessment which the Senior Planning Officer and Service Manager (Planning – Development) responded to.


Councillor Ian Houlder proposed that the application be refused, as per the Officer recommendation.  This was duly seconded by Councillor Mike Chester.


Upon being put to the vote and with 13 voting for the motion and 3 against, it was resolved that




Planning permission be REFUSED for the following reasons, with Delegated Authority given to Officers to liaise with the Chair with regard to the inclusion/removal of reason four, as deemed necessary:


 1       The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires the planning system to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling and focus development in sustainable locations. Local Planning Authorities should avoid new homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances. Between them, policies CS1 and CS4 establish the spatial strategy and the settlement hierarchy for development within the former St. Edmundsbury area. Policy DM13 bolsters this position and provides that development which is proposed outside of the settlement boundaries, as identified through CS4 and as is the case in this instance, will be strictly controlled. Policy RV3 of the Rural Vision Document further clarifies that the proposals for residential development will be favoured within the defined settlement boundaries. Collectively, these policies seek to resist residential development outside of settlement boundaries and instead direct it towards localities and settlements which are able to accommodate further growth in a sustainable way. Furthermore, Policy DM5 of the Joint Development Management Policies Document (Development within the Countryside) provides that areas designated as countryside will be protected from unsustainable development and Policy DM27 sets out the strict circumstances where dwellings will be permitted outside of the identified settlement boundaries. The proposal does not meet the provisions of policies DM5 or DM27 or  paragraph 79 of the NPPF, which outweigh this very significant conflict with the Development Plan. The Local Planning Authority is able to demonstrate an up to date 5 year housing supply and the most determinative policies for decision making are considered up to date, as such the principle of development in this location is not supported,


 2       In conjunction with policy CS3 of the Core Strategy, policy DM2 of the Joint Development Management Policies Document provides that proposals for development should recognise and address the key features, characteristics of the locality within which they're proposed. This is bolstered by Policy DM22 which further requires that all residential development proposals should maintain or create a sense of place and/or character by basing design on an analysis of existing buildings and landscape and utilising the characteristics of the locality to create buildings and spaces that have a strong sense of place and distinctiveness. The proposed development is a large building with a Corten steel skin installed to the external elevations. Physically, the proposed dwelling has 5 bedrooms and it has a footprint of 28m x 8m with a ridge height of 10.2m.

          The submitted site sections illustrate that the dwelling, as proposed, would be larger than the locality's existing buildings and in particular the existing dwellings which are modest, rural units. The building's substantial footprint and generous ridge height give rise a proposal which is incongruent with the prevailing rural character of the application site and wider context. The dwelling presents as a very large, dominating urban block in an area which is otherwise loosely developed with a typical rural vernacular. The massing and bulk do not respect the rural setting of the locality and as a result, the development is visually harmful in the way it dominates the plot and creates a jarring visual contrast between the dwelling and its rural, verdant setting. This results in a proposal which materially and significantly conflicts with policies CS3, DM2 and DM22 of the development plan in a way which is deemed to be harmful to the existing character and rural setting of the application site.

          As a direct result of the inappropriate scale and massing of the proposed dwelling, the development is deemed to have an adverse impact upon the prevailing landscape and thus conflicts with policy DM13 of the joint Development Management Policies Document. The proposed new dwelling is higher than the next largest building, the existing agricultural barn on the site. The building is not typical of the cluster and represents a departure from the local vernacular in its appearance and size. The submitted photomontage view of the building from the footpath to the north west of the site shows that the building will be dominant with the hard edges of the building set against the sky; the trees to the rear will no longer be visible on the skyline. The introduction of a hard edged, visually discordant addition to the landscape is visually intrusive and represents a visually jarring feature within an otherwise undeveloped rural setting.

          The area is rural in character and there are few sources of artificial or intrusive light; this contributes to the undeveloped and natural character of the locality. However, by introducing a large physical mass to the landscape, with internally illuminated panels - which ultimately project light outwards into the unlit landscape - the prevailing sense of place would be unduly compromised. Such a design fails to respect the locality's countryside character and would represent a conflict with policies CS3, DM2 and DM13 by virtue of the harmful visual impact to the immediate and wider setting of the building.

          Therefore, as a result of the material conflict with development plan policies CS3, DM2, DM13 and DM22, the scheme is not considered by the Local Planning Authority to represent development which satisfactorily complies with paragraph 79 of the National Planning Policy Framework. Due to the introduction of a large, inappropriately scaled building, the scheme as proposed does not significantly enhance the immediate setting within which it is proposed and nor is it sensitive to the prevailing defining characteristics of the area.


 3       As required by the National Planning Policy Framework (2019) at paragraphs 8c, 170 and 175 the Local Planning Authority have a duty to consider the conservation of biodiversity and to ensure that valued landscapes or sites of biodiversity are protected when determining planning applications. At a local level, this is exhibited through policies CS2, DM10, DM11 and DM12.

          The proposed dwelling will be located adjacent to an existing belt of mature trees and the submitted ecology survey confirms that these trees to the south of the site represent a moderate value to foraging bats due to the connectivity with the Chilton Stream. However, although the submitted ecology report acknowledges that additional lighting has the potential to have an adverse impact upon foraging bats, the scheme includes opaque roof and wall panels to give a night time lighting effect.

          The introduction of additional light sources in close proximity to an area likely to be used by foraging bats is not consistent with the principles of retaining a dark site as alleged within the submitted ecology survey.

          Accordingly, due to the potential adverse impacts upon the local bat population, the scheme represents a conflict the advice contained within the NPPF at paragraphs 8c, 170 and 175 and policies DM11 and DM12 of the Joint Development Management Policies Document and policy CS2 of the Core Strategy.


 4       Whilst the submitted landscaping proposals plan provides some detail as to the position of the boundary trees, the application is not supported by a BS5837 compliant arboricultural report. In this instance, the Local Planning Authority would maintain that such detail is required given the proximity of the development to the off-site, visually prominent tree specimens. It is accepted that the proposed development may be able to co-exist with the trees which are already in situ but the Local Planning Authority are unable to reach such a conclusion without the necessary arboricultural report being submitted. It must therefore be concluded that in the absence of information which indicates otherwise, the proposal is unable to demonstrate that it sufficiently satisfies policy DM13 which specifically aims to ensure landscape features (trees in this instance) are not unduly sacrificed or threatened.

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